What the heart knows to-day the head will understand to-morrow.
—James Stephens, The Crock of Gold
I’ve been on a James Stephens kick lately, because my favorite panel in Harry Clarke’s Geneva Window illustrates the opening scene from his novel The Demi-Gods. (You will find a description of the panel in Immaculate Heart, my new-new novel; I recently read The Demi-Gods, and honestly, the panel is so glorious that the text inspiring it actually comes up short in comparison. See above!)
Anyway, I wanted to share this passage from The Crock of Gold with you.
…The lower animals, as they are foolishly called, have abilities at which we can only wonder. The mind of an ant is one to which I would readily go to school. Birds have atmospheric and levitational information which millions of years will not render accessible to us; who that has seen a spider weaving his labyrinth, or a bee voyaging safely in the trackless air, can refuse to credit that a vivid, trained intelligence animates these small enigmas? and the commonest earthworm is the heir to a culture before which I bow with the profoundest veneration…
Not to take it out of context: the author is satirizing men who spend all their lives reading and pondering what they’ve read, never exercising their common sense (his protagonist is only known as The Philosopher). That said, it’s still a beautiful reminder that there are many types of intelligence, most of which aren’t human.